Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

12/10/10 - Well, Shana and I are back form the GSMNP and we had a great time.  The temperatures were cold..... and I mean cold.  Lows at night were down to around 23 degrees.  We started our adventure at Smokemont camp ground (off 441 North Carolina side).  That served as base camp.  From here we picked up a shuttle service (A Walk In The Woods).  They were right on time!  So after a short time to load up the van we were off on New Found Gap road to the Deep Creek trail head.  It was a short ride up to the trail head lasting about 15/20 minutes.  When we got out of the van it was about 28 degrees.

So once we got our packs situated we were off at about 11:00am!.  Our first camp site was # 57 about 8 miles down hill whichs made for a nice hike.  The trail was mostly covered with snow and the views were spectacular, given the leaves had almost all fallen off the trees we could see for miles.  Camp site #57 was right at Martins Gap Trail and Sunkota Ridge.

We were not disappointed with camp site #57.  It was flat and sprawling so it made it very easy to find some level ground to pitch the tarp and tent.  We immediately started to look for firewood (we knew it was going to be a cold evening) and commenced getting the fire started.  While Shana looked for wood, Nate and I set up camp.  Once I got the fire started, Shana did a great job at building it up to a respectful flame!

By 6:00pm it was totally dark out so it was nice to have set-up our shelters and have a nice warm fire to sit around.  We packed prepackaged meals so meal prep was practically zero.  After eating  dinner and warming our feet next to the fire we headed to bed.

12/11/10 - We decided not to stay over night at camp site #52 due to a real bad winter storm coming.  They were predicting 90% chance of precipitation (rain or snow) on Saturday evening.  O' let me also mentions that campsite #52 is located on a bald (Newtons Bald) and 5000' feet elevation.  We did not want to get socked in on Saturday so the decision was made to hike back to base camp (Smokemount) and the car awaiting our journey back to Tampa.  So, in the mourning we set out on Martins Gap to Sunkota Ridge trail to Newtons Bald Trail and back to the car.

It was a wonderful trip.  The scenery was spectacular with the all the snow on the ground.  I definitely like the Smokies much better in the winter than the Spring, summer or fall!

Enjoy some photos from the trip:

Getting ready to hit the trail head (Deep Creek Trail)

All the trails were pretty much covered in a layer on snow about 3/5 inches think.

We had some pretty precarious crossings.  At some points we got a little concerned.  It ended up being a little more than rock hopping.

What's a cold night without a camp fire.  Shana and Nate are feeding the fire.

One of the most rewarding moments of the day.  Warm... dry... feet!!!

This is at camp site # 57.  It was nice and flat.

Here is camp site # 52.

Another photo of camp site #52

That's my girl!  King of the self portrait